Title:How Jonas Valanciunas’ return makes the Raptors a much better team
Date: February 5, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the impending return of Jonas Valanciunas and the ways in which it will help an underperforming Raptors team.
You hear it a little too often if the NBA trade deadline ends up a dud. Short a marquee acquisition at the buzzer, teams — or fans, or media, or all three — will point to an internal change as a reason for optimism nonetheless. Any player returning from injury “is essentially a deadline acquisition.” It’s innocent enough framing. Don’t buy it. It’s not as if the return of an injured player wasn’t something already being considered by all parties.
That the impending return of Jonas Valanciunas happens to fall during deadline week does not change any of our earlier evaluations of the Raptors’ ability to make trades, different options available to them, or a potential interest in Anthony Davis. In those discussions, we fully assumed a reality in which Valanciunas is back for the final third of the season, and we evaluated the scenarios as such. Valanciunas’ return is not a deadline acquisition.
Pedantry aside, it will be a hell of a boost, and a well-timed one at that.